Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

A tale of two Upazilas : local governance and social development in Bangladesh

By Jean-Paul Faguet and Zulfiqar Ali


Decentralization is commonly advocated as a means to improve primary services and hence accelerate social development. Although solid theoretical arguments support this position, the empirical evidence by and large does not. This paper examines whether local governance can improve public service delivery, and hence social development, empirically with detailed evidence on good and bad cases of public service effectiveness in Bangladesh. We examine the institutional underpinnings of service provision, digging down beneath the formal and informal “rules of the game” to analyze the beliefs, understandings and dispositions that drive social behavior. Such ideas and attitudes set the incentives faced by both producers and users of public services, and hence the degree of accountability that public servants face. We find that changes in attitudes, which led to improvements in social indicators, coincided with rising educational levels, and training and outreach by NGOs. But such changes affected all of Bangladesh in similar ways. Regional variation in social outcomes is explained by the presence in certain areas of a dense web of relationships that enmeshed such advances, and their protagonists, in local systems of authority and legitimacy, strengthening their actions and making local society more susceptible to change

Topics: HC Economic History and Conditions
Publisher: London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • (external link)
  • (external link)
  • Suggested articles


    1. (1994). [1835, 1840]. Democracy doi
    2. (1956). A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures.” doi
    3. (2006). A Tale of Two Upazilas: A Study of Spatial Differences
    4. (1997). Achieving balance in decentralization: A case study of education decentralization in doi
    5. (2003). African enclosures: A default mode of development.” World Development, doi
    6. (1998). Applying a Simple Measure of Good Governance to the Debate on Fiscal Decentralization.” Policy Research Working Paper 1894. doi
    7. (2002). Autonomy, participation, and learning in Argentine schools: Findings and their implications for decentralization.” Working Paper No. doi
    8. (1988). Balance, Accountability and Responsiveness: Lessons about Decentralization.” Policy Research Working Paper 2021. Washington DC: doi
    9. (2003). Balancing rural poverty reduction and citizen participation: The contradictions of Uganda’s decentralization program.” doi
    10. (1976). Bangladesh: The Test Case for Development. doi
    11. (1999). Centralized versus Decentralized Provision of Local Public Goods: A Political Economy Analysis.” NBER Working Paper 7084. doi
    12. (2001). Creating social capital in Russia: The Novgorod model.” doi
    13. (2005). Decentralisation and Government Provision of Public Goods: The Public Health Sector in Uganda.” doi
    14. (2003). Decentralisation and Supply Efficiency: The Case of Rural Water Supply in Central India.” doi
    15. (1983). Decentralization in developing countries: A review of recent experience.” World Bank Staff Working Paper No.581.
    16. (1988). Decentralization in the public sector: An empirical study of state and local government.” In
    17. (1990). Decentralization: The politics of interventionism.” doi
    18. (1985). Decentralization: The territorial dimension of the state. doi
    19. (2005). Decentralized targeting of an antipoverty program.” doi
    20. (1989). Democracy and Its Critics. doi
    21. (2004). Does Decentralization Increase Responsiveness to Local Needs? Evidence from doi
    22. (1972). Fiscal Federalism. doi
    23. (2006). Gonoshasthaya Kendra’s Experience in reducing Maternal and Child Mortality – An Example of Transparency and Accountability as a Way to Achieve MDG Outcomes.’ Paper presented at Towards a Strategy for Achieveing the MDG Outcomes in Bangladesh workshop,
    24. (2007). Governance from Below: A Theory of Local Government with Two Empirical Tests.” doi
    25. (1993). Informe sobre desarrollo humano
    26. (1993). Institutional Incentives and Sustainable Development: Infrastructure Policies in Perspective.
    27. (1990). Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge: doi
    28. (2007). Library of Congress Country Studies: Bangladesh. Available at
    29. (2003). Livelihoods and rural poverty reduction in doi
    30. (1998). Multilateral Aid, Politics and Poverty.”
    31. (1995). Organizational Theory: From Chester Barnard to the Present and Beyond. Expanded Edition.
    32. (2000). Participation and accountability at the periphery: Democratic local governance in six countries.” doi
    33. (2001). Population as a determinant of local outcomes under decentralization: doi
    34. (2000). Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships. doi
    35. (2006). Rescaling governance and the impacts of political and environmental decentralization: an introduction.” doi
    36. (2005). Right target, wrong mechanism? Agricultural modernization and poverty reduction in Uganda.” World Development, doi
    37. (2005). Rural Advancement Committee). doi
    38. (2000). Social Policies in a Slowly Growing Economy: Sri Lanka.” In
    39. (2006). Strengthening Local Governance: Union Block Grants and Way Forward.” Dhaka: Power and Participation Research Centre.
    40. (1989). Territorial Power and the Peripheral State: doi
    41. (1990). The failure of the centralized state: Institutions and selfgovernance in Africa. doi
    42. (1986). The forms of capital.” In doi
    43. (2004). The impact of decentralization on service delivery, corruption, fiscal management and growth in developing and emerging market economies: A synthesis of empirical evidence.”
    44. (1999). The political economy of democratic decentralization. doi
    45. (2000). The route to social development in Kerala: Social intermediation and public action.” In
    46. (2007). To the MDGs and Beyond: Accountability and Institutional Innovation
    47. (1999). To what extent can decentralized forms of government enhance the development of pro-poor policies and improve povertyalleviation outcomes?”
    48. (2006). What will it take for Bangladesh to reach the growth needed to achieve the MDGs?” Paper presented at Towards a Strategy for Achieveing the MDG Outcomes in Bangladesh workshop,
    49. (1994). World development report: Infrastructure for development. doi
    50. (2004). World development report: Making services work for poor people. doi

    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.